UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Fall 2004
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from the Associate Vice President
Journey to Asia yields lessons about loyalty of far-away alumni


In his best-selling book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Thomas L. Friedman attributes this "flattening" to internationalization and our increased ability to communicate. After traveling through Asia this past summer to visit alumni at five of our 11 international chapters, I understand more than ever why UB is a thoroughly international university. Though separated from campus by thousands of miles, the alumni I met have developed and continue to maintain close ties with UB and with their fellow graduates.

Alumni are also "flattening" our world on a personal level. For example, Jason Tan, PhD '96, was studying in Hong Kong for his master's degree when he was recruited to UB by Professor Philip G. Altbach who was, at that time, a visiting lecturer at the same university. After obtaining his PhD, Tan was recruited by Saravanan Gopinathan, PhD '84, to serve as a professor and researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. And now, Mardiana Abu Bakar, a master's student of Professor Gopinathan at Nanyang, will begin her own PhD studies at UB this fall.

My trip also included meetings with alumni who are some of the highest-ranking government officials in Asia. For instance, Sung K. Huh, PhD '86 & MBA '82, served as Minister of Maritime and Fisheries for South Korea. "The education I received at UB allowed me to carry out negotiations in my work," he told me. "The teaching I received, the interactions I had with other students, my relationships with my professors all contributed to the knowledge and the foundation [needed] to do this. Without UB, I would not have been in this position."

Similarly, three Taiwanese government officials—Hsin-Huang Hsiao, PhD '79 & MA '76; Ferng-Ching Lin, PhD '79 & MA '73, and Tieh-Hsiung Wu, PhD '79—described how their education at UB allowed them to help shape their country's policies. Hsaio says he learned the importance of the free exchange of ideas and freedom of expression while at UB; he subsequently became a leader in a new cultural movement allowing greater freedom upon returning to his country.

Reflecting on my Asian trip during the long flight home, I realized how these alumni have made it a priority to remain connected to the university. And I saw how the UB educational experience has positively affected different countries, different cultures and the world.

Robert O. Davies
Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations

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